We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Information liberalism was already in trouble in 2016, when Brexit and the election of Donald Trump made it clear that freeing information didn’t always produce progressive results. Perhaps, respectable voices began to suggest nervously, all this fake news and misinformation means more discourse isn’t always better.

Since then, ever more of our public life has been forced online. And with it, information management has intensified and grown more organised. Facebook has censored anti-vaccine content; UnHerd interviews and even British MPs have been removed from YouTube; “free speech” messaging app Parler was kicked off Apple and Android platforms after the Capitol riot; Donald Trump was banned from Twitter; what turned out to be a true story about Joe Biden’s son was censored at a delicate moment in Biden’s election campaign.

In the digital age, then, the right side of history no longer wants to free information, but to curate the right message. To that end, many erstwhile cheerleaders of free speech have pivoted to claiming for themselves the place of those bishops and inquisitores haereticae pravitatis Leo X tasked in 1515, with controlling what could be published.

Mary Harrington

4 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Sam Duncan

    Information liberalism was already in trouble in 2016, when Brexit and the election of Donald Trump made it clear that freeing information didn’t always produce progressive results.

    Let me rephrase that for you, Mary: In 2016, the public, discussing the issues freely amongst themselves, determined that European unification and electing Hillary Clinton aren’t progress.

  • Ferox

    Progressives aren’t liberal. FTFY.

  • Martin

    Mary is definitely one of the smarter writers out there right now.

  • Fraser Orr

    I used to love the phrase “Let a thousand flowers bloom” in the context of free speech, until I found out where it came from. Mao Tse Dung in China “opened up” dialog in China to get new ideas to help him fix the country collapsing under his asinine ideas. However, he turned it around and instead used it to identify people who thought differently than the regime and had them all arrested.

    So although the idea “let a thousand flowers bloom” is sound intrinsically, its history rather poisons the whole thing.

    However, it strikes me that there is a lesson here. Why allow those you hate to speak? Well because it means you know who they are, you know what they think, and that is exceptionally useful information. Hopefully we won’t use the information to take our opponents out back and shoot them as Mao did, but it does give us information as to who to avoid, what they are, what they are up to and how to deal with them effectively.

    Free speech is a bargain, I’ll let you say that which I consider utterly vile if you will extend me the same courtesy. However, it has a secondary advantage of “know your enemy”, something whose importance we should not underestimate.

    In fact it reminds me of a hot story her in the US. A woman who has (or had, inevitably) a YT channel called LibsOfTickTok which is a channel that publishes screeds from various liberals, in their own words. And it is very embarrassing. Embarrassing enough that they have shut her down and the freaking Washington Post actually doxed her and her family. Published her name, address and real estate license number in their newspaper (it is hard to believe, but it is true). It is utterly outrageous, the woman is apparently running for her life. Why? Because, God forbid, she had the temerity to tell us what some of the crazies were saying IN PUBLIC videos. We would be greatly disadvantaged if these people did not exercise their freedom of speech and humiliate themselves in the process.

    Which is worse — the ability of the censors to silence your voice, or their ability to memory hole the stupid things they themselves have said?